Weber teacher receives top national teaching honor

The NEA Foundation today announced that Alexandra Castellanos Smith, a Spanish/English as a Second Language educator at Sand Ridge Junior High in Roy and Weber Education Association member, will receive one five Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence awards. The award is one of public education’s highest honors and recognizes educators for their diligence and dedication to students, colleagues, communities, and their profession.

Smith was also honored earlier this year with a 2021 UEA/doTERRA Excellence in Teaching Award.

The other 2022 Horace Mann award winners are:

  • Adriana Abundis Alonso, a master educator at Sidney Lanier High School in San Antonio, Texas, nominated by Texas State Teachers Association.
  • Natalia Benjamin, an English language educator at Century High School in Rochester, Minn., nominated by Education Minnesota.
  • Chris Gleason, a music educator at Patrick Marsh Middle School in Sun Prairie, Wis., nominated by Wisconsin Education Association Council.
  • Kathy Purviance-Snow, a career and technical education/social studies educator at Snohomish High School in Snohomish, Wash., nominated by Washington Education Association.

“These awardees’ stories are as diverse as the communities they serve and the educator profession itself,” said Sara A. Sneed, president and CEO of the NEA Foundation. “Their exceptional commitment to their students and school communities, however, is the special quality that connects this year’s five honorees and all Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence recipients. We thank Horace Mann for their continued support in recognizing outstanding educators in such an uplifting way.”

“Educators are at the forefront of inspiring the next generation of change-makers,” said Marita Zuraitis, president and CEO of Horace Mann, a financial services company that has served educators for more than 75 years. “We value the investment all educators make in their students, especially during times of great change. They are the bedrock of their communities, and we are proud to recognize the exceptional contributions and achievements of the recipients of the Horace Mann Award for Teaching Excellence.”

For more than 20 years, the NEA Foundation and Horace Mann have celebrated outstanding educators from around the country with this recognition. Each 2022 honoree will be featured in a mini-documentary video that will premiere at the NEA Foundation Salute to Excellence in Education Gala and will receive a $10,000 award.

The NEA Foundation presents the Awards for Teaching Excellence annually, with support from NEA Member Benefits, the Horace Mann Companies, and California Casualty. Educator awardees will be celebrated at the Gala on February 11, 2022. To learn more about the 2022 awardees, visit our website at www.neafoundation.org.

About the NEA Foundation
The NEA Foundation is a national philanthropic organization that invests in educators’ leadership, shared learning and collaboration; supports partnerships and initiatives that strengthen public education; and promotes improvements in public education policy and practice. Find us at neafoundation.org, Facebook and Twitter.

About Horace Mann
Horace Mann Educators Corporation (NYSE: HMN) is the largest financial services company focused on providing America’s educators and school employees with insurance and retirement solutions. Founded by Educators for Educators® in 1945, the company is headquartered in Springfield, Illinois. For more information, visit horacemann.com.

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